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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 13:16 GMT
Election apology starts net feud
Screengrab from sorryeverybody.com
A 20-year-old student website ignited the online debate
An online war is under way between Americans who want to apologise for the US presidential election results, and those who are happy with the way it turned out.

Sorryeverybody.com started the duel the day after the polls closed, with a picture of its creator holding up a "Sorry World" message.

Since then the site has racked up more than 27 million hits as other people post pictures and view the growing gallery of images.

But the site has also seen the creation of at least eight other websites set up by supporters of president George W Bush who believe there is nothing to apologise for.

Polarised net

Screengrab from werenotsorry.com
There is no reason for us to apologize to the rest of the world because of our belief in Freedom and Democracy
www.werenotsorry.com
"It was mind-boggling the amount of emotion the website has triggered", said James Zetlen, the 20-year-old creator of the original sorryeverybody.com website.

The student, who is currently studying neuroscience at the University of Southern California, said that since people rarely apologise on the internet, he thought it was high time to do so.

"The world needs to understand that there are people in America who don't like what our government is doing," he said answering questions on the site about why he did it.

"And from the mail we're receiving, there are people in the international community who appreciate this."

But the success of sorryeverybody.com has prompted supporters of President Bush to respond with a number of anti-apology sites, such as werenotsorry.com.

"There is no reason for us to apologize to the rest of the world because of our belief in Freedom and Democracy", read one message left on the site.

Many people are expressing their support or disapproval in very strong terms.

Record visits

The internet was supposed to make communication between cultures, countries and peoples painless and easy... But it doesn't do this automatically; somebody has to reach out
James Zetlen, sorryeverybody.com
Due to its huge success, Mr Zetlen had to move his site to a private server, after his university complained that it was taking up 82% of its bandwidth.

Now he is asking for donations and placing ads at the bottom of the pages in order to finance the site, which costs about $7,000 per month to operate.

The sites collecting the messages have attracted huge numbers of visitors, both from within and outside the United States.

Sorryeverybody.com includes reaction responses coming from Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Israel, Brazil, China and many other countries.

"On behalf of my country I accept your apology; I know you tried hard", read a message from a German web user.

Mr Zetlen said that his only intention was to promote a global debate on the US election results.

"The internet was supposed to make communication between cultures, countries and peoples painless and easy.

"It was supposed to build bridges. But it doesn't do this automatically; somebody has to reach out. Also, come on, it's kind of amusing."


SEE ALSO:
Blogging the US election - XIII
06 Nov 04 |  Americas
World finds voice on US vote online
28 Oct 04 |  Technology
Attack prompts Bush website block
28 Oct 04 |  Technology
Playing the president
25 Oct 04 |  Technology
Can the web save democracy?
02 Apr 01 |  Talking Point
Internet lesson from US elections
06 Jun 01 |  Vote2001


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